Back in March of 2010, this website reported on the case against Kurk Kirby: the Washington State resident who was arrested for openly carrying his .45 ACP Springfield XD into his neighborhood Albertson’s grocery store. I hadn’t even started reading The Truth About Guns yet, never mind reviewing firearms on TTAG’s behalf. But my fingerprints were all over the Kirby story. I am Kurk Kirby’s lawyer.
Thoughtful people of good will have differing opinions about the wisdom of openly carrying firearms. I leave that question for others to debate. Suffice it to say, Washington state does not prohibit open carry either by statute or case law. In theory, when an activity is not clearly illegal, the law should not punish people for doing it. In practice, Evergreen state prosecutors continue to push the limits of the law to beat back the scourge of informed, armed citizens exercising their Second Amendment rights.
That’s what happened to Kurk.
Never mind that Washington’s prohibition on open carry was repealed in 1999, making Washington an open carry state.
Never mind that Kurk was polite, cooperative and even friendly with the investigating officers.
Never mind that his chief accuser was a self-styled martial arts expert who’d been court-martialed out of the Marine Corps for selling drugs in the barracks.
Never mind that the other two accusers were the ex-Marine’s wife and friend.
Never mind that all the accusers initially said Kurk was doing nothing menacing or alarming at all.
Never mind that they waited nearly two weeks before they concocted a lurid tale of gun-slinging villainy that would have made Josey Wales choke on his tobacco spit.
Never mind that, of the hundreds of people in the shopping center that warm afternoon, only three other people even noticed that he was wearing a gun. (So much for the gun-slinging tomfoolery.)
And never mind that those three other people remembered Kurk as cheerful, polite and outgoing.
Never mind all that.Kurk was charged with ‘Unlawful Display of A Weapon’ because three people were frightened by the sight of a handgun. You don’t have to do anything frightening with a handgun, apparently, to violate the law; some hoplophobes are frightened merely by seeing one.
It took hundreds of hours of investigation and research, enormous material assistance from the NRA’s Civil Rights Defense Fund and twenty months, but the charges against Kurk Kirby have been dismissed.
Yesterday afternoon I joined my client at the evidence department of the Vancouver Police Department to retrieve his pistol, the very same .45 ACP Springfield XD pictured above. He even got all his bullets back, and that’s a good thing because Cor-Bon .45s are damned expensive.
Kurk has a clean record. He’s got his gun back. By any yardstick, his open carry saga belongs in the win column.
His accuser doesn’t seem to have done so well: he took some blistering heat from the Open Carry crowd, and the last time we interviewed him his business had taken a nose-dive. I’d be dishonest if I said it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.
And the other people who noticed him that day? Their story hasn’t gone so well either. Two of them were clerks at the tanning salon next to the accuser’s martial arts ‘dojo,’ and they were robbed earlier this year by a hooded meth tweaker who claimed to have a gun in his pocket. Nobody was hurt, but the scumbag has never been identified or caught.
Kurk wasn’t there that day, because I’d advised him to stay as far from the court-martialed ex-marine Karate Kid as possible until the case blew over. The clerks really wish he’d been there, because they doubt any tweaker would have robbed them if an athletic and conspicuously armed customer had been chatting with them in the lobby.
In the end, the city of Vancouver ‘protected’ itself from the (supposedly) palpitation-inducing sight of a man peaceably wearing a sidearm and minding his own business. I guess we’re all supposed to feel better about that.
The only thing I feel good about: my client (and now my friend) clearing his name and getting his gun back. Kurk’s a good guy, and a Springfield XD .45 is a damned nice gun. All’s well that ends well.